Mikel Arteta expects Arsenal to benefit from Gabriel Jesus' absence from the Brazil squad as he hopes to show Tite what he is missing before the World Cup.

Arsenal are top of the Premier League ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, but none of their three senior Brazilian stars were called up by the Selecao last month.

Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Jesus had all been part of Tite's squad during the previous international window in June.

Yet they now face a race against time to prove themselves before Qatar 2022, which kicks off next month.

Jesus was a particularly surprising omission, having scored four goals and assisted another three in seven league appearances since joining Arsenal in July.

But Arteta revealed a determined response from his number nine, telling reporters of Jesus: "He's incredibly humble.

"He accepted the decision and the way he trained, it was just: 'Okay, I need to improve. I need to get better. I need to do more. I really want to be there [at the World Cup], it's a big aspiration for me, it's an incredible opportunity. And I'm in the right place to do that.'

"So, I think we will see that on the pitch again."

At international level, Jesus appears to be in direct competition with Spurs striker Richarlison, who has hit form at the right time with seven goals in his past six outings for Brazil.

Jesus is set to come up against him this weekend, but Arteta says his striker cannot be concerned by how others fare.

"He can only control what he can do. He cannot control what other players do," the Arsenal manager said. "And he's only focusing on that.

"So, he has ambition. We know that he plays with incredible commitment. And [on Saturday] he will play that way."

Former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey has questioned whether football is ever going to "move forward" in dealing with racism.

After scoring for Brazil in a 5-1 win over Tunisia at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday, Tottenham forward Richarlison had a banana thrown on the pitch in front of him from the stands.

The player expressed outrage after the game and called for stiff punishments to be imposed, though appeared to doubt strong action would be taken.

Spurs team-mate Harry Kane and former England captain Rio Ferdinand offered their support, while Richarlison's club boss Antonio Conte said on Thursday there must be heavy sanctions, saying: "For sure I hope these people are banned from football for the rest of their lives."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Heskey was also not sure any punishment handed out would be enough, and raised wider concerns about how racism is dealt with by the football authorities.

"It's a tough one for me to really discuss because we still haven't moved forward," he said. "And are we going to move forward? That's the question I keep asking, are we going to move forward?

"We keep asking for certain things. We keep saying that we're getting better, and we've moved on. We're not going anywhere to be honest with you.

"They might get fined £5,000. Then I'll go and do something with betting and I'll get fined £100,000.

"The thing is priorities... It's not [treated as] a priority."

Heskey – who is the seventh top scorer in Premier League history with 516 goals – did concede that some progress is being made as racism is at least discussed more openly now compared to previous years, but does not feel enough is actively being done to deal with it.

"It's sad because I've got kids playing... they could still be going through what their grandparents went through and that's 50 years apart," he added.

"Are we getting anywhere? We are because we are discussing it. When my grandparents were going through it, we weren't discussing it. Now we're discussing it, which is great.

"But we've got no action. No call to action. Nothing."

Antonio Conte wants a lifelong ban from football to be imposed on the supporter who threw a banana at Richarlison while the Tottenham striker was on Brazil duty.

The apparent act of racist abuse came as Richarlison celebrated scoring in a 5-1 win over Tunisia at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday.

Richarlison expressed outrage after the game and called for stiff punishments to be imposed, while appearing to doubt such strong action would be taken.

The likes of his Spurs team-mate Harry Kane and former England captain Rio Ferdinand have offered their support, demanding action is taken, and now Tottenham boss Conte says there must be heavy sanctions.

"I think we have to take the good part of the situation. Richy played with the national team, scored goals," Conte said.

"Then what happened is incredible because in 2022 to witness this type of situation is embarrassing for everybody.

"For sure I hope these people are banned from football for the rest of their lives.

"It's a very disappointing situation to have to make a comment on this. I want to take the best part of the game from Richy. He scored goals and he enjoyed playing with Brazil."

Tottenham said in a statement on Wednesday the club were "disgusted" by the abuse, adding: "This has no place in football, or anywhere. We stand with you, Richy."

Harry Kane said the racist abuse that Tottenham team-mate Richarlison faced this week was "unacceptable" as he called on FIFA to ensure "the right consequences" happen.

The Brazil forward had a banana thrown at him while celebrating a goal with team-mates during the Selecao's 5-1 friendly win over Tunisia in Paris on Tuesday.

Richarlison used social media afterwards to appeal for strong punishment, while others including former England defender Rio Ferdinand have come out in support.

Now Kane has added his voice to pleas for the world governing body to get tough on racism, and backed his club-mate.

"It was very disappointing to see," Kane told ESPN Brasil. "I haven't seen [Richarlison] and had a chance to talk about the racism that he suffered against Tunisia.

"I think FIFA have said they are going to investigate and find out what happened, but normally, that kind of thing is unacceptable."

Kane, captain of England, added: "I think we're doing all as much as we can do as players to kick out [racism] as much as possible. I hope FIFA can be strong and find out who done it, making sure the right consequences are made."

Kane further vouched for Richarlison's personal attributes, saying: "He's a great guy. He works really hard and is really professional. I'm really happy to have him in our team."

Rio Ferdinand called on football federations to take more action against racism after a banana was thrown at Richarlison during Brazil's 5-1 friendly victory over Tunisia on Tuesday.

A banana appeared to land near Richarlison as the Tottenham forward celebrated scoring Brazil's second goal near the corner flag at Parc des Princes in Paris.

The incident comes after Vinicius Junior, Richarlison's international team-mate, was told by a Spanish agent to "stop playing the monkey" in relation to his goal celebrations.

Richarlison himself received criticism last month when he started doing kick-ups late in Spurs' 2-0 away win at Nottingham Forest.

And former England international Ferdinand believes it is wrong that, in his view, Richarlison received as much condemnation for his showboating against Forest as Tuesday's incident with the banana has.

"You've got your own kids waking up and saying: 'Dad, have you seen that banana thrown on the pitch at Richarlison?' It's madness," Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.

"There was probably as much vitriol and hysteria on social media and in the media in general as there were with this banana incident, racism incident, as there was when Richarlison was doing kick-ups."

The Manchester United legend also believes more should be done by footballing powers, adding: "I'm not saying football can change or cure racism because I would be an idiot to think that.

"Football can play a good part in highlighting issues and standing together, standing strong and standing unified to make the authorities and powers that be put things in place to protect people, but it ain't happening. It's disheartening.

"Another day racism is okay and welcomed in football. Look at the reaction to the stuff with Vinicius Jr. I don't see the federations coming out and absolutely backing these players and going absolutely against it or a big press conference being called and saying 'we ain't having this'."

Tottenham have offered their support to striker Richarlison, who was the subject of racist abuse while on international duty with Brazil.

A banana appeared to be thrown at Richarlison from the stands as he celebrated his goal in a 5-1 win over Tunisia at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

The Spurs man responded on social media, warning "it will continue like this" until such incidents are punished.

Richarlison has received the backing of his Brazil team-mates, and Tottenham added a message of support on Wednesday.

"We are disgusted by the racist abuse of Richarlison at last night's game between Brazil and Tunisia," the Premier League club posted on Twitter.

"This has no place in football, or anywhere. We stand with you, Richy."

Brazil defender Thiago Silva was "very sad" after team-mate Richarlison appeared to be subjected to racist abuse in a friendly win over Tunisia.

Video footage showed a banana being thrown at Richarlison as he celebrated scoring Brazil's second goal in Paris.

Silva previously played at the Parc des Princes – which hosted a large Tunisian contingent – with Paris Saint-Germain.

"It hurts me," the Chelsea defender said of the incident. "Frankly, I'm very sad. That's not football. Football is about supporting your team.

"Afterwards, on the field, we give our best for our team. But gestures like that [shown] on video, it's not good for football."

Discussing his return to Paris, Silva added: "It was good to come back to the Parc. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was against us. Normally, here, it is a good atmosphere for me, but today the public was against us.

"But it was good to come back here. I spent eight years, eight and a half years here – it was a good time to come back."

On the pitch, the Selecao enjoyed a dominant performance, with a brace from Raphinha, Richarlison's goal and a Neymar penalty securing a 4-1 half-time lead.

A first international goal for Flamengo striker Pedro concluded the 5-1 rout in the second half.

Neymar's goal, his 75th for Brazil, moved the forward within two of the Brazil record, held by legendary striker Pele.

"Neymar is incredible. He is a magician," Silva said. "Unfortunately, in the past years, he had very important injuries, but this year is different.

"He prepared a lot during the vacations. I was with him in Brazil, I saw him. I hope he can continue with this mentality [and] a good health to arrive well at the World Cup."

Brazil's Richarlison has urged for strong punishments to be issued to those found guilty of racial abuse, after having a banana thrown at him while on international duty.

The Tottenham forward scored the second of the game in Brazil's 5-1 victory over Tunisia in Paris but a comfortable win, the last international game before Brazil's World Cup campaign commences, was marred by the incident.

A banana was thrown as Richarlison celebrated his goal, his ninth in 20 appearances for the national side, which became the latest racist incident to impact Brazilian footballers.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr had suffered abuse from Atletico Madrid fans in his side's recent derby triumph, following on from quotes from a Spanish agent who told him to 'stop playing the monkey' in reference to his dancing celebration.

Both players received a flood of support following the jarring incidents but Richarlison has warned that things will not improve unless the widespread condemnation is followed up with punishments.

"As long as they say "blah blah blah" and don't punish, it will continue like this, happening every day and everywhere. No time bro!" he posted on Twitter.

Brazil's squad had lined-up ahead of the match to display an anti-racism banner which read: "Without our black players, we wouldn't have stars on our shirts".

A banana was thrown at Richarlison during Brazil's friendly against Tunisia in Paris, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said.

Richarlison scored the Selecao's second goal in a 5-1 win at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

But the victory in Brazil's final match before the World Cup was soured by reports of a racist gesture aimed at the Tottenham forward.

Video footage appeared to show a banana land near Richarlison as he celebrated his goal, and the CBF confirmed the incident on social media.

"Unfortunately, after the goal, a banana was thrown on the pitch towards Richarlison, scorer of the second Brazilian goal," a short statement read.

"The CBF reinforces its position to combat racism and repudiates any prejudiced manifestation."

Richarlison scored twice as Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 in Le Havre, an early tease of the Selecao's strength before they go after a sixth World Cup title.

Neymar pulled the strings in the first half, setting up both of Tottenham frontman Richarlison's goals after Marquinhos put them into an early lead.

There was a late booking for Neymar after he took too firm a nibble at Mohammed Kudus, the player who scored for Ajax against Liverpool in the Champions League.

But nothing could spoil Brazil's night in Normandy as Tite's team wrapped up a convincing win.

The opening goal came in the ninth minute when Raphinha's devilishly powerful corner from the right swung in and was met with a thumping header from Marquinhos.

Raphinha, Neymar and Vinicius Junior failed to take chances before Richarlison showed how it is done in the 28th minute, sweeping a crisp and low first-time shot into the bottom-right corner from Neymar's pass.

Brazil's third arrived in the 40th minute when Neymar took on set-piece duties on the left and whipped a dangerous free-kick into the near post where Richarlison's header gave Jojo Wollacott little chance.

Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams made his Ghana debut, coming on for the start of the second half after switching allegiance from Spain. Brazil also threw on Bremer for a debut, the Juventus central defender taking the place of Thiago Silva.

Ghana went close to pulling one goal back when Andre Ayew headed against the crossbar in the 57th minute, while Williams proved to be a dangerous new presence in the Black Stars' attack.

Brazil had riches in reserve though, and Tite withdrew Richarlison, Vinicius and Casemiro just after the hour mark, with Fabinho, Antony and Matheus Cunha coming on.

Raphinha could not quite reach a dangerous ball across goal from Lucas Paqueta, and Cunha saw a close-range effort deflect over the bar, as Brazil chased in vain for a fourth late in the game.

Tottenham forward Richarlison has suggested his former club Everton have a "lack of ambition" as he explained his reasoning behind leaving Frank Lampard's team.

Everton finished 16th last season – their lowest Premier League placing since the 2003-04 season – only ensuring their status as an ever-present in the competition thanks to a 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace in their penultimate game.

Richarlison scored in that win and played a pivotal role in Everton's survival, netting six goals from the start of April. Having finished as the Toffee's top scorer, with 10 league goals, he was sold to Tottenham in June for an initial £50million, with potential add-ons taking the deal to £60m.

Everton's finances have been under scrutiny after their lavish spending under Farhad Moshiri, whose investment has not yielded desired results since he purchased a majority stake in the club in 2016, and a big sale was needed to help balance the books.

Though leaving Goodison Park after four years was still a difficult decision, Richarlison feels Everton lacked the ambition to challenge for honours.

"It's always a tough call when you have such strong connections with your club, and that was definitely the case for me," Richarlison told FourFourTwo.

"I was happy at Everton and I’m grateful for everything I learned there. It’s a big club with a lot of history. 

"However, perhaps they're suffering with a lack of ambition nowadays. You know, that eagerness to win matches and trophies.

"I spent four years there and I could see there was still a very long way to go to achieve big things.

"I felt it was the right time to move on, and the club also had to make some money. It was a good deal for everyone involved. I'm delighted with this new challenge at Spurs."

After a bright start to last season under Rafael Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who replaced Carlo Ancelotti following the latter's surprise return to Real Madrid, Everton tailed off badly as injuries and a loss of form combined.

Lampard took over from the unpopular Benitez in January, though struggled to get immediate results before finally finding a way over the line in May. Everton are yet to win in the league this season, though have shown promising signs in a run of four successive draws.

"It was a very stressful season, to be honest," said Richarlison, who is set to play a key role for Brazil at the upcoming World Cup.

"We had a lot of injuries and the squad wasn’t big enough to cope. I personally had some issues, too. 

"As soon as the previous Premier League campaign had finished, I played in the Copa America, then the Olympic Games, and then the Premier League started again. I had no break and sustained a few injuries during the season."

Richarlison has swiftly endeared himself to Spurs supporters and head coach Antonio Conte, who hailed the 25-year-old's versatility and application after a two-goal showing on his Champions League debut against Marseille.

Those goals are Richarlison's only ones in a Tottenham shirt, though he has provided two Premier League assists in his last two appearances in the top flight.

After last weekend's postponements, round seven of the Premier League is finally upon us, but continental fixtures midweek could throw a spanner into team selection.

Now over a month into the season, things are beginning to take shape as managers make it clear who is in and out of favour, while struggling teams may feel the need for drastic changes in an effort to get back on course.

Whether they start every game, or they have worked their way into consideration, this is the time of the year when players can stake their claim as key contributors for the long season ahead.

This week's Opta data points out a couple of playmakers who have shined coming off the bench, as well as some safe prospects in the back half who are at the centre of their teams' plans, and could make the difference in your Fantasy Football plans.

 

Nick Pope (Newcastle United v Bournemouth)

Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is in fine form, boasting the most saves in the league this season with 28, while also owning the best save percentage (82.35 per cent) and being tied for the lead in clean sheets (three).

It is not just a small sample size, either. Since the beginning of the 2019-20 season, only Ederson (58) and Allison (45), widely considered the league's best two shot-stoppers, have kept more clean sheets than Pope's 38.

Also working in Pope's favour is the fact Bournemouth are one of six teams this season to average less than one goal per game, and have been held scoreless by Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolves.

Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest v Fulham)

Full-backs have always been a bit of a cheat code in fantasy football due to their ability to bank both clean sheets and a healthy dose of assists compared to centre-backs, and Nottingham Forest's Neco Williams is emerging as a quality creator of chances.

No Forest player has created more chances than the 21-year-old's nine – among defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (13), Kieran Trippier (11) and Diogo Dalot (10) have crafted more. 

Williams has also played every minute of his side's six games so far. 

Bernardo Silva (Manchester City v Wolves)

Manchester City's Bernardo Silva is enjoying a rich run of form, with four goal involvements (two goals and two assists) from his past four matches.

City are the highest-scoring team in the Premier League this season with 20 in six games, and after coming off the bench in the first two fixtures of the season, Silva has now made four consecutive starts.

Silva's goal contributions have come from 1.33 expected goal involvements, with only team-mate Erling Haaland, Brentford's Ivan Toney and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino have outperformed their expected figure by more.

Richarlison (Tottenham v Leicester City)

After spending £60million this past transfer window to secure the 25-year-old from Everton, Tottenham awarded Richarlison with his first start in their last top-flight game against Fulham, and he came through with an assist and a disallowed goal.

It was his second assist from his past three games, after coming off the bench against Forest and teeing up Harry Kane.

Leicester City have been a team the Brazil forward, who scored his first two Spurs goals in a Champions League win over Marseille earlier in September, has feasted against during his time in the Premier League, with his five goals against the Foxes matching his best total against any team (also five against Southampton and Wolves).

Richarlison described his Champions League debut as "one of the best days of my life" after scoring his first two Tottenham goals in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Marseille.

The Brazil international opened the scoring for Spurs in the 76th minute of the Group D contest with a header after Chancel Mbemba had been issued a red card.

Richarlison, a £60million signing from Everton, glanced in a second five minutes later as Tottenham won their opening match in the competition for only the second time.

He became the 39th Brazilian to score on his debut in the competition, the most of any nation, and is the first Brazilian since Oscar in September 2012 to net a brace on his bow.

The 25-year-old was in tears at the end of the game as he embraced his father in the stands and later took to social media to reflect on a day to remember.

"After hearing the anthem, I started to smile, it was my dream as a kid," he said in an Instagram post, alongside an image of himself with his father as a youngster and an adult.

"Being there, listening to the anthem, playing the match, I got very emotional and I was rewarded after scoring these two goals with the help of my friends.

"The whole team helped me a lot. I'm very happy, it was one of the best days of my life with my father and family here.

"My father was here, he has been with me through all my career. He helped me a lot to make my dreams come true.

"To have him here today was very emotional for me because he's a huge part of my success."

Richarlison's double came in his sixth match since arriving from Everton, just two of those being starts, with the versatile forward also contributing a couple of assists.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte hailed the former Watford player's impact after the game.

"First of all, I am happy for Richy," said Conte, who ended a run of four games without a home victory in the Champions League.

"He deserved to have a night like this. I remember very well when we signed him, he said he cannot wait to listen to the Champions League music and play in the competition. 

"This morning I said I remember what he said and you have your opportunity and chance. I think he did his best."

Antonio Conte hailed Richarlison's versatility after the Brazilian opened his Tottenham account with a brace to seal a 2-0 Champions League win over Marseille on Wednesday.

Spurs took full advantage of Chancel Mbemba's red card as Richarlison twice headed past Pau Lopez inside the final 15 minutes, ensuring Conte's men won their opening match in a Champions League campaign for only the second time.

Richarlison became the 39th Brazilian to score on his debut in the competition, the most of any nation, but is the first Brazilian since Oscar in September 2012 to net a brace on his Champions League bow.

The 25-year-old joined from Everton in a £60million deal in July and Conte believes his display was a perfect demonstration of why they signed him.

"First of all, I am happy for Richy," Conte said in a news conference. "He deserved to have a night like this.

"I remember very well when we signed him, he said he cannot wait to listen to the Champions League music and play in competition. 

"This morning I said I remember what he said and you have your opportunity and chance. I think he did his best.

"We signed him to enhance the quality of team and support our three strikers. Last season when you have a team with Son [Heung-min], Harry [Kane] and Deki [Dejan Kulusevski], we tried to sign a player that was able to play in all three positions.

"For this reason, we didn't have any doubts about signing him and we did it quickly because our idea and ambition was very clear.

"He is more of a striker than Deki but at same time he can play in the Son position, Kane position, and Deki position. This is very important for sure, as when you make rotation, you don't drop the quality."

 

Spurs travel to champions Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday and Conte acknowledged he will likely have to shuffle his pack, given the tight turnaround.  

"I have a big decision. Honestly, I am a bit worried as we are playing against City in only two days and it is not easy," he added.

"I think some players need to recover as many have played every game until now. You know very well we have to rotate our team."

Richarlison scored his first two Tottenham goals as they marked their return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2019-20 season with a 2-0 win over 10-man Marseille on Wednesday.

Spurs started slowly in their first competitive clash against the Ligue 1 side, but their cause was helped significantly just after half-time when Chancel Mbemba was shown a straight red card for a professional foul. 

Antonio Conte's men took full advantage of that numerical advantage inside the closing 15 minutes as Richarlison twice headed past Pau Lopez to the delight of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd. 

The result means Spurs are level on three points with Sporting CP at the Group D summit after the Portuguese side beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 earlier in the day.

Spurs did most of the pressing in the first half, yet their only chance of note fell to Harry Kane five minutes before the interval, the England captain dragging wide after being played in by Son Heung-min.

Marseille's hopes of going back to France with a positive result were dealt a blow two minutes into the second half when Mbemba received his marching orders for bringing down a clean-through Son just outside the penalty area. 

Substitute Dejan Kulusevski injected some much-needed spark into Spurs' attack following his introduction on the hour mark, and the new-look hosts went ahead in the 76th minute when Richarlison headed home Ivan Perisic's cross. 

The former Everton man put the result beyond doubt five minutes later with another header – this time from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's cross – that left Lopez with no chance. 

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